We Were Not Alone

I’m oddly thrilled by the thought that I have Neanderthal DNA in me.

The Cuckoo Club Archives

It’s one of the great themes of storytelling: We Are Not Alone.

All over the world – in literature, mythology, folklore – is the idea that humans share the Earth (the Universe) with some other sentient being or beings.

Gods, nymphs, daevas; fairies, leprechauns, kelpies; trolls, yetis, dwarves.

Others.

There are eversomany much more than six billion of us on the planet now. Some of us read – and write – stories where humans explore the depths of the Universe in search of intelligent life. Some of us follow religions that suggest we are the progeny of divine beings who walk amongst us. And some of us are exploring the inner workings of what makes us human – DNA, the chemical building blocks of life – to come up with some surprising answers.

Hot on the heels of the earlier announcement that a Mesolithic person in…

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An A to Z of Non-Binary Genders

Reblogging

shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows

So, here’s a thing that happened: Alex Dally MacFarlane had the temerity to suggest that non-binary gender is an actual thing that deserves to be represented in SFF, and certain persons lost their shit, citing a variety of ill-informed reasons that can basically be summarised as “non-binary gender doesn’t really exist, but if it did, we’d still think it was icky and unimportant, and also you’re just a liberal fascist trying to make us sympathise with imaginary humans as part of your nefarious agenda to destroy all men”. And as such persons are apparently incapable of performing a basic Google search before spouting bigoted nonsense all over the internet, I’ve decided to make things easy for them, and compile a handy A to Z of non-binary gender identities in the modern world and throughout history. This is by no means an exhaustive list; for a more comprehensive…

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AROW80 Check-In for January 29, 2014

Howdy, howdy, howdy!  Hope everybody’s having a good week. I’m feeling lazy as a bump, which I’m blaming on the weather — though at least it was warmer today. That’s right, we hit double digits!  And tomorrow we’re supposed to be in the 30s so that’s going to be like having a heat wave.

Had a doctor’s appointment today, which went well enough. Had some blood drawn for lab work (I’m a Type II diabetic), so now I’m worrying a bit about the results. No real reason to, other than that I’m always worried when it comes time for my results.  My blood pressure was 122/88 which was good and while I’ve gained weight since my last visit, it was only three pounds so, here’s hoping that my A1C levels are still nice and low.

My doctor did suggest that I take another diabetic education class which I readily agreed to. My last diabetic education class was when I was first diagnosed back in 2000 or 2001 so I’m thinking that it’s highly likely that nearly everything I learned then is out of date.  I foresee changes in my diet approaching, which’ll be for the best.

I also got a flu shot which hurt but better safe than sorry, I suppose.  I whined and moaned about the needles, as I usually do, because I am terrified of them — though I don’t really understand why since it honestly doesn’t hurt *that* bad. The flu shot hurt but I think that’s because it’s an injection but the blood draw was barely even a pinch. Pulling the bandage off hurt more. Stupid, irrational fears and their irrationalness!

Previous Goals: 

  • I finished reading Race, Ethnicity and Nuclear War and it turned out to be as full of good crunchy information as I’d hoped it would be. Particularly one chapter about the reactions of African-American writers, scholars and activists to nuclear war. I took about ten pages of notes on that chapter alone.
  • Haven’t done much of anything else yet, but the night is young! I got a new copy of Lee Killough’s Checking on Culture: An Aid to Building Story Backgrounds and I’m planning on using the checklist she has to do some worldbuilding in the Defcon ‘verse.

Goals for the Week

  • In terms of writing, same as last week: to get up off my butt and DO something to get myself back into the swim and stop goofing around.
  • Adding some personal goals: check into diabetes education, pick up my perscriptions and get motivated to start losing weight and exercising more. My health isn’t the worst but it could be a lot better.
  • Hell, just work on getting motivated at all, since I’m in an all-around slump — which I’m at least partly blaming on the weather.  (I live in fear that one of these days, the weather is going to knock on my door and give me a cease and desist order for using it as a scapegoat for things…)

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Every Award-Winning Book Sucks (For Someone)

Whatever

As part of my occasional and hopefully instructive series of entries in which I try to make the point to writers that negative reviews are part of the territory and ultimately not something to get too worked up about or to let scar one’s psyche, I would like to present you excerpts of one star Amazon reviews of every single Hugo-winning novel of the last ten years (of which there are eleven, due to a tie in 2010). I would note that while I quote only one for each novel, in every case, there was more than one to choose from.

In chronological order:

2004:Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold:

I hate it when I see an awesome author seem to get worse as they move on and write other series. I pushed through the first one, and did finish this one, but had to complain about the writing…

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AROW80 Check-In for January 26, 2014

Here we are again, it’s six a.m. and I’m…actually not that tired. I mean, I’m tired but I’m not noooo-whyyyy?! tired. Which will probably suck when I go to bed. D’oh…

It’s still cold. It’s always been cold and I think it will always be cold. I may also be a bit groggy.

But, I’m actually in a really good mood. I got a book through interlibrary loan that I’ve been wanting to read for a while now: Race, Ethnicity and Nuclear War by Paul Williams.  I’m reading the book, in part, because several of the characters in the Defcon series are African-American and I want an idea of the history of nuclear war and civil defense from an African-American perspective.  And this book is delivering like Dominos Pizza!  Not only am I getting some good informaton, I’m also getting a line on some other sources.

Previous Goals:

  • Had an orange! (wasn’t it pretty?)
  • Didn’t watch any Supernatural but did go see I, Frankenstein, which was very goofy but also a good turn-your-brain-off-and-enjoy-your-popcorn movie. (Spoilers in review)
  • Haven’t read any more Story Engineering, or written an outline or noodled anything on Chapter 12 but there is always later today!

Goals for the Week:

  • Work on the stuff I didn’t do last time around!

Hope everybody’s having a good week!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click Here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

I, Frankenstein Review — SPOILERS AHEAD!

Just got back from seeing I, Frankenstein with the girlfriend and since a couple folks asked me to let them know how it was, here goes. I’m going to try to keep the visible spoilers to a minimum. My more detailed and spoilery thoughts are going under cover; you can highlight them and read them if you want and avoid them if you don’t. The code comes from here: http://amadi.dreamwidth.org/40143.html?format=light

I, Frankenstein Review

Overall, long story short review: It was a good turn off your brain and don’t think about it too hard kind of movie.  It’s only about an hour and a half long, so the story is compressed.  I think it might have been better if it had been at least a half an hour longer and gone into the main character’s backstory a bit more and set up more of the world.  If you like Supernatural or Van Helsing and the Blade movies, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Also, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a 3D movie and it was soooo cool! The glasses worked and everything! I’d been told once by an eye doctor that I’d never be able to see 3D movies but they must’ve improved the technology because I was able to see it just fine.

The main story of the movie is that 200 years ago, Frankenstein’s monster killed his creator’s bride and the scientist died trying to hunt the monster down.  The monster then finds himself in the middle of a war between two supernatural groups and the main part of the story takes place in the present day in a city that might be London, based on the accents of the majority of the people in the cast and some of the architecture.

The Creature ends up being a pawn in the battle between good and evil (as y’do) and is also struggling some with his own identity though this isn’t really addressed that much and is kind of wrapped up quickly near the end.

By the way, the demise of the big bad is pretty frickin’ clever.

One semi-major nitpick under the highlight: The good guys in this film annoyed me because they came across as the kind of arrogant good guys that I just *hate*. The sort who think that because they are the good guys, whatever they do is right and just. Like, oh, not bothering to talk to the Creature about his situation and offering to help him avoid the evil forces out to get him. They even name him, like you’d name a dog. (The fact that they named him “Adam” of all the overly cliché names for artificially created beings, didn’t help, either.)

All in all though, I enjoyed I, Frankenstein. It was goofy and there were some plot holes you could sail an aircraft carrier through but that’s kind of what you should be expecting from a Frankenstein’s Monster vs. Gargoyles movie, isn’t it?

Edited to add: Aaron Eckhart, the guy who plays the Creature in this movie does an awesome job and makes for a damn attractive cobbled together reanimated corpse. I mean, there’s a point where the Creature takes off his shirt and it’s like, “How did Victor Frankenstein find such a good-looking bunch of corpses in 18th century Germany? Was there a set of octuplet super-models in the village or what?” This is not a complaint.

AROW80 Check-In for January 22, 2014

Sooo, about those goals for this week….uhm…yeahhhhh…

I gotta admit, I’m in a slump.  I think part of it has to do with the weather and its insistence on going from cold to hot to OH DEAR GOD WHY IS IT SO COLD?!   It’s just sapping the energy out of me and making it hard to want to do much of anything else.  Am so sleepy! *whines*

Another part of it is that I’ve hit a wall in Defcon: Fade Out and I’m finding it easier to do other things than to try and scale the wall.  On the plus side, I’m pretty sure I know what I need to do to help me get moving — I just need to make myself apply butt to chair, pen to hand, and writing to paper and work on outlining Chapter 12. Even though I know that I will likely either scrap what I’ll write or change it drastically when I start typing it up.

Why I’m scared of writing an outline, I do not know. It’s almost like this writing thing is getting too close to real (in the sense of having an actual draft) and it’s making me want to shy away and hide.

Though, on a good note, I’ve figured out that a couple of my characters — niece and aunt — are originally from Detroit and managed to get out of the city after World War III.  It doesn’t directly impact the book I’m working on right now, but it will be a key part of earlier books and will probably ripple forward.

At the risk of sounding like one of those #overlyhonestmethods scientists, Detroit was chosen because it is a large city in the general region of the US where the rest of the books will be taking place and was used as a test case for nuclear bombing by the Office of Technology Assessment in a 1979 report to Congress on the effects of nuclear war.  Which gives me a primary source from close to the time when World War III pops off, thereby making extrapolating things easier.

As another way of avoiding actually working on the book, I’ve also been creating a bibliography of my research materials for the entire Defcon Series. Partly because I’ve discovered that one of my local libraries will do interlibrary loan and I don’t want to request books I’ve either already read or already own.  Of course, due to a sense of intense laziness, I’m currently not wanting to go and dig the books off my shelves/out of the piles they’ve been stacked in.

Goals for this week:

  • Haven’t watched much Supernatural this week; been catching up on some of the regular TV I’ve recorded (new season of Archer started this week! WHOO! DANGER ZONE!) and some of the episodes of other shows I’ve missed like Bones and Raising Hope.
  • I am still working my way through Story Engineering which I think has also contributed to my slump because reading the book makes me see just where my story is currently falling short — and is giving me ideas on how to fix it, so yay me!
  • Have written not one word for Chapter Twelve but the day is not over yet and once I wake up, I might make myself at least outline/freewrite.
  • did take the books back to the library and made some photocopies from a book called The Psychology of Nuclear War, which is a copy of a report done by the British Psychological Society in 1984 about, well, what it says on the tin.  The other book, which I didn’t make copies from because I went ahead and bought it for myself — is a collection of satiric political cartoons called “We Survive World War Three and You Give Us Light Beer?: Life After Megadeath” by Pat Bagley.  
  • Visiting AROW80 folks — I fell down on this one again, but I will try to do better this round!
  • Also did not get any more oranges but the week is not over yet!

Goals for this Round:

  • Get some oranges, they sound good now.
  • Keep reading Story Engineering and move on to Writing the Fiction Series. Plus, I’ve got a couple non-writing research books coming in through interlibrary loan.
  • Noodle something about Chapter Twelve.
  • Take the girlfriend to see I, Frankenstein this week for some cheesy Frankenstein’s Monster vs. Gargoyles action — and maybe some stir fry, aww yeah!

# # # # #

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AROW80 Check-In for January 19, 2014

Another short I-should-be-in-bed-why-am-I-not-in-bed?! post!:

Previous Goals: 

  • Still watching Supernatural; up to Season Five!
  • Haven’t worked on Defcon: Fade Out Chapter 12 at all, except in the ‘thinking about what I need to write’ and doing a bit of research in regards to tracking people.
  • Still reading Story Engineering; I’ve just started on the section on story structure and I’m learning a lot and it’s making me rethink some of the structure of my book.
    • Also finished reading Writing The Other, which helped to reinforce things I’ve already been thinking about and gave me some ideas for things to do with some of my characters.

Goals For This Week:

  • Keep watching Supernatural since in addition to being research for Butcher’s Bill, it’s also good reference for Story Engineering.  Also, the Winchester boys are still pretty. And screwed up. Those poor, poor, damaged boys…
  • Keep reading Story Engineering and, once I’m done with it, switch over to reading Writing the Fiction Series. Then it’s on to Story Physics.
  • Write something for Chapter Twelve, even if it’s just an outline, so I don’t lose momentum. Or too much momentum.
  • Take books back to the libraries and make some photocopies for research purposes.
  • Visit folks in AROW80 and IWSG
  • Get some more oranges at the grocery store — had one tonight at work and it was not only delicious, but my hands smelled good for most of the rest of the night.

And now, off to bed. I hope everybody has a great and productive week!

Powered by Linky ToolsA Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-In for January 15, 2014

First off, I want to apologize for not checking in with as many folks as I usually do this time around.  Real life circumstances — mostly involving a lack of sleep — got in the way but I will endeavor to do better this time around!

Previous Goals: 

  • Up to Season Four in Supernatural! The fit has hit the shan, for Sam and Dean! These are some episodes I’ve never seen so I’m enjoying not getting so many minutes into an episode and going “Oh! Yeah! This is the one where the refrigerator is haunted by the ghosts of leftovers past!”
    • For research purposes, the show is raising some interesting questions about what it means to hunt monsters/live with knowledge that the majority of people don’t have.
  • I finished Defcon: Fade Out Chapter Eleven and I’m working on Chapter 12 now. This one will probably take a bit of doing since it’s a chapter I’m going to have to write from whole cloth but forward motion is continuing and I am happy.
  • I started reading Story Engineering  I finished the chapters on Concept last night at work — and even took notes!
    • On the one hand, I like the book a lot and I think Brooks’ approach is very valuable — it’s certainly a lot more practical than some story writing books I’ve read and I like that.
    • On the other hand, I’m beginning to suspect that Defcon as a whole and this book in particular needs a lot more work than I thought it did. Which is actually something I’ve been worried about for a while now, but Brooks’ book is helping me to put words to my doubts.  This is probably a good thing.  No, it is definitely a good thing, but it is also making me want to whine and stomp my feet because it feels like the work will never end and I’m never going to have a finished book and *flail*.
    • On the third hand, I know that there will be an end and I will finish the work and there is no need to flail like an angry Muppet.

kermit-yay-flail-o

Like this, only with more swearing and maybe tears…

Goals for the Week:

  • Keep working on Defcon: Fade Out, because if nothing else, I’m at least getting A narrative written down.
  • Keep reading Story Engineering and taking notes. Also to try following the Concept exercise to help flesh out my ideas.
  • I’m also reading Writing the Fiction Series by Karen S. Wiesner. I’m thinking that this book and Story Engineering are going to dove-tail together nicely.
  • Keep reminding myself that, as Jake the Dog says:

Dude sucking at something

Powered by Linky Tools, A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click here to view this Linky Tools list and to enter your own link as well!

AROW80 Check-in for January 12, 2014

Ok, this is going to be another short post on account of I am still up at almost six-thirty in the morning (a fact I will no doubt regret by this afternoon).

Previous Goals:

  • Still watching Supernatural; we’re up to Season Three now!
  • Worked more on Chapter Eleven for Defcon: Fade Out. It should be done tomorrow-ish and I should be on to Chapter 12 by Monday. And, if all goes well, I’ll hit 50,000 words tomorrow too! Go me!
  • I actually wrote up a species creation checklist for the human/ape hybrids in Defcon.
  • I started a character creation checklist for one of my main characters, but I’m having a hard time making myself work on it. Because Defcon is supposed to be a series and this is a character who will be in every book, I’m thinking of maybe scrapping the answering questions part and simply writing a paragraph or a page about the character and her life at each stage in the series, plus about her when World War III happened. And then doing the same for the other POV characters.
  • The series as it stands right now spans about a 40 year period from 1983-2022. The plan, as it stands right now is for the books to take place in 1994, 2005, 2011, 2022 and 2033 in order to showcase different stages of post-nuclear war recovery. As of tonight, I’m thinking I might also try to do stories and/or novellas that take place between the books.
  • I started Story Engineering by Larry Brooks but got distracted by writing and reading other books. *hangs head*

Goals for this week:

  • Continue working on Defcon: Fade Out, Chapter Eleven and Chapter Twelve.
  • Continue working on worldbuilding for Defcon
  • Continue reading Story Engineering
  • Watch more Supernatural — especially since I’m getting close to episodes I haven’t seen yet!

Other Stuff: Went and saw Saving Mr. Banks today with my girlfriend and her mom. It’s not a movie I would have chosen to see on my own, but I enjoyed it a lot. The movie has probably one of the best reveals of a character flaw that I’ve ever seen.

Last week we went and saw Wolf of Wall Street, which was…good? Entertaining? Not the worst way to spend three hours? It was another movie I’d never have gone to on my own, and like Saving Mr. Banks it’s a good character piece, but it is not for everyone. If you like absolutely reprehensible characters, you’ll probably like it. Though a word of warning: apparently, it set a new record for most uses of the F-word in a movie and I think I saw more nudity in that movie than I had in all the other movies I saw last year*, so leave the kids at home.

* Ok, so most of the movies I saw last year had no nudity in them, but even still, Wolf of Wall Street showed soooo much skin. IT was like F-bomb, nekkid person, drug use, shady stock dealings, lather, rinse, repeat.

And, on that note, I go now to sleep. Hope everybody has had and will continue to have a great week/month/year.

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AROW80 Check-In for January 8, 2014

Well, I posted a nice and long list of goals for this quarter on Monday and I have to admit, I haven’t worked on a blessed one of them in the days since. Which is sad considering that thanks to the weather I got an extra couple days off this week.  But, instead of writing, I spent that time relaxing (okay, napping) and kind of recharging my batteries.  And marathon-watching Rosemary and Thyme and Supernatural on Netflix.

I suppose I could make the case that watching Supernatural is kind of/sort of research for Butchers’ Bill, in the sense of seeing the kinds of tropes I want to play with when it comes to hunting supernaturals.  I already know that my vampire hunters aren’t much like Sam and Dean.  For one thing, they live in a world where the supernaturals in general and vampires in particular have been acknowledged as real for years.  And for another, in their world, vampire hunting is a legitimate career choice.  Not the kind of thing you necessarily want your kids to go into, but it’s a living. Watching Supernatural helps me center my world by making me ask myself questions about it and by letting me listen to my characters’ reactions to it (as admittedly woo as that sounds).

Plus, hey, Sam and Dean are hawt.  Not to mention Billy.  *fans self* Whooo!

It also helps that this is a bit of passive research/brainstorming I can do while I work on other things. And, again, the hawtness of the cast does not hurt.

Actual Writing Goals for this week:  I think for this week, at least until Sunday, I’m going to keep it simple and focus on only two goals.

  1. Defcon: Fade Out:
    1. Keep writing. I finished Chapter Ten and am in the middle of Chapter Eleven and I kind of hate what I’ve written but I’m just going to keep bulling through. I’ve got a feeling that Chapter Eleven will either end up on the cutting room floor or will be incorporated in earlier, but regardless it still needs to be written so I can get it out of my head and onto paper.
    2. Complete character checklists for at least two of my main characters as well as the worldbuilding checklists. One for a human/ape hybrid species and the other for a religious subgroup.  Luckily, I have checklists for all of these! I have checklists for EVERYBODY! AHAHHAHAHAHA!
  2. Reading Story Engineering and Story Physics by Larry Brooks. 

Powered by Linky Tools, A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. You can learn more here and if you want to join, you can Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Insecure Writers’ Support Group Check-In

 

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group – Check-In for 1/8/2014:

Standard Introduction Goes Here: My name is Kathy, I’m 43 years old, I work in a call center and I’ve been writing off and on since I was 17 but making up stories and worlds and assorted oddness since I was little. I can still remember being about five years old and talking to myself before I went to sleep and having to stop when my mom would come to bed — and then there was that magical day I realized that I could keep talking to myself when she came to sleep if I just started talking to myself inside my own head. Mind. Blown.

I wrote off and on during my teens and twenties, never really finishing anything or pursuing my goals as hard as I could/should have.   Well, not entirely true, there were a couple finished stories which were not good.  It wasn’t until about eight years ago when I got interested in writing Transformers fanfics that I started producing complete works and getting real feedback about my writing and gaining some real confidence.

In 2007, I tried Nanowrimo for the first time and didn’t win but did at least get a chunk of work done. Original work, which made me happy because finishing and eventually selling an original work is a goal of mine.  I didn’t try Nano again until 2011 and didn’t win that time either but in 2012, I did! And this time I managed to continue to work on the project after Nano was done so that made me happy since, as my history probably illustrates, finishing is not one of my strong suits.

I went back to that same project in 2013, with the stated goal of writing a complete draft from beginning to end all the way through with no hopping around and leaving bits to be done at some ‘later time’ that never comes.  I’m still working on it, so, go me! And I’m using my involvement in A Round of Words in 80 Days to help keep me focused. So far, so good!

Insecure Writers’ Support Group:

OK, so, this is my first time posting as part of the IWSG and according to the sign-up page, we’re supposed to: Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs.  So, here we go with a list of some of my more pressing doubts and how I deal with them:

Doubt #1 I suck.  I’m a terrible writer who can’t come up with good stories to save her life. Or, at least, I can come up with story ideas but actually turning those ideas into a cohesive story is beyond my puny abilities.

How I Conquered It:  I haven’t. I don’t think any writer ever really completely gets over the fear that they suck.  Well, except for the ones who do – and more power to them! But for me, while I haven’t conquered this insecurity, I have found ways to shut it up and force it back down into a box. I remember positive feedback I’ve gotten from readers about things I’ve written. I keep in mind that right now, since I’m still an unpublished amateur working on finishing a complete project, it’s kind of expected that what I create isn’t going to be publishable straight out of the gate.  The thing to focus on now is getting words out on the page so that they can be crafted into something that doesn’t suck.

Doubt #2 I’m an uncreative leech!  The reason I liked writing fanfic so much is because it was easier to use someone else’s ideas, slap on a few superficial and highly derivative bits of my own and then blather on for a few thousand words and call it done.  Hack, thy name is me.

How I Conquered It: First things first, I like my fanfics. Well, most of them. Some of them aren’t my best work, but other ones are pretty damn good if I do say so myself. I had fun writing them and, judging by the reviews I’ve gotten, there are people who’ve had fun reading them. Or at least gotten enough enjoyment out of my writing that they took the time to give me a comment. And considering the number of complaints about lack of feedback that show up on Fanficrants, that’s got to be saying something, right?

It also helps that, since I joined A Round of Words in 80 Days and have begun talking about my original fiction ideas, I’ve gotten some positive feedback about them as well. Knowing that others find my ideas and my writing worth their time and consideration helps ease my doubts.

Doubt #3: I’m too old to be a writer! I’m nearly 44 years old and I’ve got nothing to show for the years I’ve spent writing. I’ve written a handful of original fiction stories, none of which are anything to write home about. The last time I submitted anything for publication was in the mid-1990s and nothing came of them. At this rate, I’m still going to be playing around, pretending to be a writer when I’m in my 90s and I’ll never, ever, ever have anything to show for it. Why did I waste my 20s?!

How I Conquered It: Primarily by telling myself to stop talking stupid. Ok, so I might be a bit long in the tooth to take up ballet but for writers, age ain’t nothing but a number. I can write about ballerinas. Or cowboys. Or dinosaurs. Or cowboy ballerinas who ride dinosaurs – on MARS! Because why the heck not?!

And if I want to get something finished, well, then the thing I need to focus on is actually finishing something. Funny how that works, huh? If you don’t work on something, it doesn’t get done.  It’s true for laundry; it’s true for stories. Butt in seat, pen to paper, fingers on keyboard, write, write, write! RAAAAAAH! *goes charging off like Bluto in Animal House*

Doubt #4I am woefully behind the times and out of date; I always get interested in things a few steps behind everyone else. Therefore, my ideas are all going to be dreadfully out of style by the time I’m ready to start trying to get them published. Nobody else is going to care about the things I think are cool because they’re all going to be on to the newest cool thing, leaving me behind in the dust.

How I Conquered It:  By reminding myself that I am damn near 44 years old and way too old to be worrying about whether or not I fit in with the cool kids. With a  ‘For Crying Out Loud’ tossed in for good measure.  Yes, granted, there are trends in publishing but trying to write to those trends isn’t going to make me happy – and considering the amount of work that goes into writing a book, if I’m not happy, I’m not going to do it. So, to paraphrase those stupid Apple Jacks commercials, I will write what I like.

Besides, the world of publishing has changed; there are markets and formats that didn’t exist when I first started writing. There’s a world of options out there that I can, hopefully, take advantage of.

Doubt #5: I’m too weak to do this.  Writing is hard! Why is it so hard? It’s not fair! It shouldn’t be so hard! Why can’t I just plug a cord into my brain and print out the damned stories directly? Screw jet packs and flying cars, I want a Print On Demand Brain! One that comes with some kind of graphic design function too, because I can’t draw for @#%* either. Well, except for really cartoony pictures of fish.

cartoonfish

How I Conquered It: Yeah, writing is hard – particularly when you’re writing for the consumption of others.  Stephen King has described writing as telepathy; which makes sense, you’re basically trying to take thoughts from your brain and put them into someone else’s.  So, yeah, of course that’s not going to be easy!

I’m sure artists throughout history have wanted to give up.  I’m sure the first storytellers, back in the days when all stories were new and they could literally create anything and have it be completely fresh and new, had days when they just did not want to drag themselves out to the campfire and tell stories. And the folks who worked on Stonehenge? I’m willing to bet that they had days when they didn’t want to get out of their hut and deal with those picky-picky druids who had to have everything just-so.  And it’s an established historical fact that Michelangelo didn’t want to work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but saying ‘no’ to the Pope wasn’t exactly a healthy life-choice at that time.

But they did it. They told the stories and carved the stones and painted the ceiling not because they had to but because creating things made them happy. Ok, so Michelangelo did so he could work on other projects he liked better, but he still did it.  But regardless of why they did it, the enjoyment they got out of it was important. They wanted to get the ideas and the thoughts from their brains into other peoples’ brains.  And if they could do it, considering that they were also dealing with saber tooth tigers and cranky druids and insistent popes, then I can do it when my biggest obstacle is my own whinny self.  And Candy Crush.

Not to mention, that one thing that makes writing easier is actually sitting down and DOING IT instead of sitting around whining about it. I mostly write during downtime at work and on a good night, when things are particularly slow, I can manage at least a thousand words without much in the way of effort, so while I might not ever have a POD Brain, I can still at least get the words on the paper. Which is ultimately what counts.

Doubt #6: I’m wasting my time, my money and my efforts on a gamble that, likely, won’t ever pay off enough for me to recoup my investment.

How I Conquered It: Really, self? Really?! You do realize that in the last week you have spent almost an entire day watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix and eating corn chips and cheese dip, right?  Exactly what investment are you getting back on that, other than a nice relaxing day watching an awesome show and enjoying some yummy cheese?  Some things you do for the money or because they’re the practical, day to day things that have to be done and some things you do for the love of them and for the joy they bring you.  If you’re lucky, sometimes you can get paid for doing the things that bring you joy but the joy should come from the doing of it, not from the getting paid part.

Doubt #7Nobody cares.  I’m all alone, sucking and faking it and being old and out of date with my weak, non-POD enabled brain of suck and fail, wasting my time howling into the abyss – in between binge-watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix and playing way too much Candy Crush and Jelly Glutton on Facebook. I should give up and find a more productive way of spending my declining years.  And probably find a new show to binge-watch since I’m running low on Phineas and Ferb episodes. Dang it…

How I Conquered It: See Doubt #1; people do care and I know it. I’ve got friends at work who talk about characters from a book I started back in 2007.  My aunt asks after my writing. My girlfriend types up research notes and background materials for me.  My declining years are still a couple decades ahead of me, so I can shut that noise up too.  And, okay so I am going to have to find a new show to binge-watch but, y’know a broken clock can be right twice a day.

If you enjoyed my post and want to read more, please, visit the other Insecure Writer’s Support Group blogs for more posts about writing.  Like Spider Robertson said, shared pain is decreased, shared joy is increased, thus we refute entropy!

Supernatural: Bloodlust

Since we finished Rosemary and Thyme, we’re back to rewatching Supernatural episodes in order to catch up with the seasons we’ve missed (like, everything after 3, I think…) and we just got to one of my favorite lines in the whole series:

Dean and Sam have been asking a local sheriff about some cattle mutilations and their possible connection to weird satanic ritual stuff.  The sheriff’s response makes me dance in my seat, in part because it’s just so delightfully sarcastic:

Sheriff: Because there’s no such thing as cattle mutilation. Cow drops, leave it in the sun, within forty eight hours the bloat will split it open so clean it’s just about surgical. The bodily fluids fall down into the ground and get soaked up because that’s what gravity does. But, hey, it could be Satan. What newspaper did you say you work for?

Rosemary and Thyme

I’ve been watching this mystery series on Netflix for the last couple days and on the one hand, I like it a lot. I’ve got a soft spot for mystery TV series in general and British mystery TV series in particular. It’s also nice to see a show about older female characters and the mix of characters’ personalities and backgrounds as well as the way gardening and gardening related themes are folded into the stories makes for a very enjoyable experience.

That said, ladies, you’ve been finding dead bodies for three seasons now, you really shouldn’t be so blasted surprised by it anymore. Also, for crying out loud will you STOP confronting murderers when you are alone with them? Especially when gardening tools are within arms’ reach! Sheesh…

Character creation questionnaires and Worldbuilding checklists

A bunch of checklists I found here, there and everywhere posted for my and others future reference:

AROW80 – First Round Goals List:

ROW80Logocopy

Powered by Linky Tools A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If you’re interested in joining, you can visit  the above link for more information and then Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

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Ok, so it’s the first round of 2014! Whoo!  I started with A Round of Words in 80 Days during the last month or so of the last round of 2013.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say that even in the short time I’ve been involved with this group, I’ve gotten some very positive benefits out of it. I’m finding that it is easier to keep a goal if I have to tell other people about it, but since there’s no pressure to reach a set word goal per day, it’s also easier to forgive myself if I don’t meet a particular goal. Being able to ‘talk’ out loud about what I’m working on and get feedback has been very helpful. If this is your first time with AROW80, welcome! For the folks I met last time, howdy again!

This will be my first full round and I’ve come up with a list of goals that I hope to be successful with this time around. Further information on these projects can be found on this post, under my Current Projects Index page.  So, with crossed fingers and a hopeful heart, here goes my list in order by the project’s current priority (the goals are not in any kind of priority order, they’re just what I think needs to be done for that project):

DEFCON: FADE OUT – Top Priority:

  • Finish writing the complete draft of Defcon: Fade Out –  Since November 1st, 2013 I’ve averaged about a chapter every six days. I’m currently on Chapter 11 of a projected twenty so I’m looking at about 56 days if I can maintain the same momentum.
  • Type up the complete draft of Defcon: Fade Out.  Luckily, I type about 90 words a minute so this will be fairly quick. In theory.
  • Give the typed-up draft to people to read.
  • Build a blanket fort in which to hide while draft is being read by friends so I will have a secure place in which to shake like a Chihuahua standing on Jello during an earthquake from nerves.
  • Complete Character Checklists for all of my POV characters and major secondary characters. This is something I should have done a while ago, but I find that characters tend to create themselves while I write. (I’ve got a whole word document full of links various checklists for character creation and worldbuilding to choose from, thankfully).
  • Complete a couple other worldbuilding checklists for things that have an impact on the series as a whole.  Ditto that these should have been done earlier but c’est la vie.
  • Begin plotting out books 1-3 and 5 and figuring out what other sorts of checklists I might need to complete for them.

GEM CITY: — Secondary Priority:

  • Type up drafts of stories currently residing in my thinky thoughts book.
  • Complete Character Checklists for main characters, especially William Cartwright, the Shamus Who Has No Shame.
  • Complete Species and Religion Checklist for the Deros
  • Plot out at least one story set in this ‘verse.

BUTCHERS’ BILL – Tertiary priority; probably going to be held over to Round 2:

  • Print out original drafts and give it a read over, see what can be salvaged and create a scene inventory.
  • Complete Species Creation Checklist for vampires so I can establish the rules for what they can and cannot do in this ‘verse.
  • Complete Character Checklists for main characters (sensing a trend, are we?)
  • Plot out book incorporating some new ideas I’ve had for the plot
  • Look into potential research sources for new plot ideas.

KINSTEALER – Back Burner: This idea still needs to percolate since currently there’s not much to it than a bunch of very nebulous thoughts and concepts.  I’m considering writing this one as a Young Adult novel, but I’m not sure. We’ll see how things go.  As should be expected, a variety of checklists need to be finished for this ‘verse.  

 OTHER GOALS:  

  • Complete individual project pages
  • Read the books on writing that I got for myself
  • Not freeze during the cold snap that’s lasting until Tuesday around here.

OTHER STUFF OF INTEREST:

  • I joined WANA — anybody else a member?

A Portrait of the Artist as an Asshole

Whatever

As a bit of tangential discussion to this entry, I’d like to address the topic of creative people being assholes.

1. Some creative people are assholes. This is for whatever value of “asshole” you use, because what makes someone an asshole is a somewhat subjective thing — like pornography, we tend to know it when we see it. Some creative people are assholes because “creative people” is a subset of “people,” and some people are just assholes, independent of their chosen line of work. There are asshole cops, asshole laywers, asshole doctors, asshole grocery checkout people, asshole presidents, asshole postal workers, asshole baristas, etc.

Additionally, everyone’s occasionally an asshole, because people are fallible. If you have a reputation as an asshole, it’s probably because you’re often visibly an asshole to others and/or when your being an asshole is pointed out to you, you tend to see it as a feature…

View original post 1,222 more words

New Year’s Day Interim Check-In

Ok, so there’s no scheduled check-in for today since AROW80 is on a break until next week, but I wanted to post about a couple things and say Happy 2014 to everybody out there in Following-My-Blog-Land and Beyond.

Firstly, I did not get Chapter 10 of Defcon: Fade Out finished before midnight…but I at least got Chapter 10 started prior to midnight so I’m calling it a win. And, if all goes well, I should have the entire chapter finished by midnight on the first.

I did some number crunching and based on what I wrote from November 1st to December 31st, I was averaging a chapter every six days. If I can keep up that kind of momentum, then I should easily have this draft finished and be able to start typing it up before the end of the first round of AROW80. So, go me! Yay!

If I don’t manage this, though, I’m not going to be overly hard on myself since I’m entering the rougher part of the book — namely the ending. Endings are not my strong suit. But, I’m not going to give up. I’m going to finish the draft and the ending is going to make some kind of logical sense. Hopefully. Eventually.

Otherwise, I hope everybody had a great holiday season and that 2014 brings you all the happiness and joy you desire.